North Kensington Community Center
"Between 1934-1938 the Peabody Estate was built alongside Sutton Dwellings with blocks of flats spreading north of Dalgarno Gardens. On Sutton Way, at the far end of the estate, a Community Centre was built to provide activities for the local community. Included was a Nursery School, opened in 1936."
This was my nursery (above) at the age of 2, my parents moved from Scotland to find work (and to find London) and ran this center from 1977- 1988. Our flat was in this huge, very old, big building that had many cold, solid rooms. It appeared much like an old school with two colored walls, a banister to slide down and long cold corridors. My mum moved in there pregnant and just about had me in London zoo down the road.
There was lots of live music created by my parents and the other staff and ridiculous
dressing up party's with people with limbs hanging out. I remember lots of hanging out in the canteen, lots of mischief with my mate Kelly who's mum also worked there, aswell as, lots of other kids and many adults of all ages and ability's, also lots of discos, soft ball and Ross on Wye mud, lots of art, screen printing for marches and lots of cockroaches on the ground floor.
Unforgettably, when the place was empty i spent hours in each of the rooms, knowing every corner of the building, creating and running away from imaginary monsters. It was all home.
I'd like to find out why this building was knocked down 5 years after we left.
Over the next few weeks, months - I will be collecting information from both my own past and from other peoples.
i will be gathering information about the birth of the community center and collecting material for this project.
Very little has been written about 'The Community Center.' Recently, I was told the birth of community center was in Leicester.
I know that that before the Community Center, there were town halls run usually by the church.
Ive also starting making links between Pubs and Community Centers and like to investigate places like the The Magazine that once existed in Leicester, a pub that ran similarly to a community center.
Through much discussion, it is evident how many amasing personal story's are out there, of those who believed and cared about people.
I d like to make a start at recording and documenting what i feel should be documented. What comes after will be developed as an art installation with objects, Sound, video projection & Photography. I will be exploring designs Ive made using small motors and rooms of designed gadgets.
All storys and findings would be nice to see as a book aswell as a curated exhibition.
The Studio I'm about to move into is also the space i will be exhibiting the work in progress in (as part of this years Summer Art Trail 21-31 august). The studio is situated above a pub restaurant , The Queen of Bradgate in Leicester.
I will carry out a series of interviews and recordings within the restaurant, bar area, returning once again to a practice in site responsive work. It would be interesting to carry out some of this work in the place i will also be showing in and talk to the one of the owners of the pub who, similarly to Dave Frame owner of The Magazine, she has done a lot of community work with young people before running a pub.
Inviting people to a meal brings many other layers to this project- the environment and space, the food chosen, discussion round a table and the effect of those around us and what all this brings.
My first invites go to to those that first inspired this project Dave Frame, Max, Ian magic Teapot, Maz and some new comers that i feel will bring more spontaneity to the table.
Should you have any information of the above- photos, videos, historic info, personal stories and would like to be part of this project
- please do get in touch- email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Leila Houston (London, 1977) is a visual artist whose work investigates the social, political and historical aspects of a place.